Neurology & Neurosurgery

Below, please find links to all of the clinical trials involving neurology and/or neurosurgery. The studies include a multitude of information, including (but not limited to) the study’s purpose, benefits for participating, and financial incentive information. If you have any questions, please contact the individual outlined at the end of each trial summary.

Please visit the Neurology & Neurosurgery service webpage at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) if you would like to learn more about the amazing things that our neurologists can do for you and your animal.  More information about the Neurology & Neurosurgery service research can be found here.


Brain Tumors: Investigating Therapy Delivery Methods

Title: Convection enhanced delivery (CED) of murine leukemia virus (MLV) cytosine deaminase (CD) gene therapy in canine glioma

Purpose of Study: This clinical trial will investigate the delivery of a viral gene therapy for canine gliomas (brain tumors).

Participation Requirements:

  • Dogs with intracranial glioma
  • Ineligible:
    • Moderate or severe neurological deficits
    • Uncontrolled seizures
    • Rapidly deteriorating neurological status

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Dogs will be assessed for eligibility based on an MRI scan. A CT guided brain biopsy will be done to confirm the diagnosis and to concurrently deliver the gene therapy.

Procedures: Using CT and MRI scans, a needle will be placed into the brain tumor (previously diagnosed on MRI). A biopsy of the tumor will be taken and the viral gene therapy will be injected into the tumor through the same needle. 2-4 weeks following the injection, the tumor will be surgically removed or be bulked. Following surgery, further treatment may include radiation therapy and/or the experimental gene therapy drugs.

Benefits: The major benefit for the dog and owner is that the brain biopsy, surgery, radiation therapy and experimental gene therapy will be paid for up to an initial cost of $20,000 per case.

Surgical resection and radiation therapy are the standard of care treatment at this time for gliomas. Based on individual case assessment, the experimental gene therapy may be given and may have an additional benefit in treating any recurrent or residual tumor.

Owner Responsibilities: Owners are responsible for the small costs associated with any routine medications that the dog is currently prescribed. Treatment will be assessed based on recheck MRI scans at 2-3 month intervals.

Contact: Owners or referring veterinarians should contact the Neurology/Neurosurgery coordinator, Christy Chessman, at (530) 754-0606 or

Diseases of the Spine in French Bulldogs: Understanding the Genetics

Title: Genetic investigation of vertebral column anomalies and degenerative disc disease in the French bulldog

Purpose of Study: Diseases affecting the spine, including congenital anomalies of the spine and intervertebral disc disease, are very common in French bulldogs and can cause debilitating pain, trouble walking and incontinence. Genetic mutations causing similar diseases have been identified in other breeds of dogs and we would like to compare them to the French Bulldogs in this study to help us identify specific gene(s) involved with congenital anomalies of the spine and intervertebral disc disease in French bulldogs.

Participation Requirements: French Bulldogs 5 years or older

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: Once the consent form is signed, your dog will be admitted to the hospital for a few hours, during which your dog will get physical, neurological and orthopedic examinations, an ultrasound of the heart, and detailed x-rays of the entire spine (under light sedation). A blood sample will also collected at this time. We will discuss the results from these procedures and inform you of any abnormalities. As soon as sedation wears off, you will be able to take your dog home.

Benefits: There is no charge to you to allow your dog to participate in this clinical trial. All costs associated with the study will be paid by the sponsor/department.

There is no direct benefit of this study for you or your dog at this time; however, gaining a better understanding of the genetic mutations associated with congenital anomalies of the spine and intervertebral disc disease may lead to the development of a DNA based test or a database that will allow breeders to make informed breeding decisions.

Owner Responsibilities: If you allow your dog to participate in this study, you will be responsible for bringing your dog to your scheduled appointment at the VMTH and taking him/her home on the same day. We expect that participation in this clinical trial will last for a minimum of 2 hours, but we ask that you leave your dog at the VMTH for at least 3-4 hours so we have time to evaluate your dog and take x-rays of his/her spine.


Printable Flyer (PDF)

Myasthenia Gravis: Understanding the Genetics

Title: MHC Haplotyping of dogs with Acquired Myasthenia Gravis

Purpose of Study: Acquired myasthenia gravis is an immune mediated disease. In people, there is an association between genes (HLA DR3) and the myasthenia gravis. If the same is true in dogs, it may allow us to identify dogs at risk before the development of disease, and it may allow us to develop new treatments. The purpose of this study is to determine if dogs with acquired myasthenia gravis have a similar genes (MHC haplotype). We will use DNA collected from blood cells to do the genetic analysis. The genetic analysis will be done in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Participation Requirements: Dogs with a confirmed diagnosis of acquired Myasthenia Gravis.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: The only procedure involved a DNA analysis of a blood sample submitted by the owner (at least 5 mls) in 1-2 EDTA tubes.

Benefits: There is no direct benefit of this study for you or your dog; however, the information may allow us to identify dogs that are at risk and develop new treatments.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner only needs to send in a blood sample that has been collected in 1-2 tubes of EDTA by over-night FedEx, Monday to Thursday.

Contact: Contact Dr. Vernau at (530) 752-1393, (530) 304-9450, or